Teaching about a contemporary war is beset with political and professional constraints. Nonetheless, for its 5th anniversary, I have written an Iraq War lesson that uses NewsHour and other internet resources to honor and connect students to the stories of Americans who have given their lives in service of our country.
Lesson Description: Each student selects, researches, and reports on one fallen service man or woman.
Warm Up and Introduction: class discussion and teacher talking points:
This is not a discussion on the merits of the Iraq war itself. Patriotic Americans have strong opinions, both pro and con, but they are united in their respect and gratitude for the men and women who serve in our armed forces.
Discussion about an ongoing war can bring up strong feelings. Let’s take a minute to clear the air, open some space to reflect and discuss those feelings.
The Iraq war has been going on for five years now, with over 4000 US lives lost. Are there any wounded or killed soldiers who are known or related to you or to someone you know?
How do you find out if someone has died in Iraq?
Let’s find out something about these service men and women— many just a little bit older than you— who were so dedicated that they put themselves in harm’s way and have given their lives in service of all of us.
Once the interactive page has loaded (it may take a minute -it’s loading a lot of information!) you will see how to select a hometown or an entire state. In the screen shot below I have entered Baltimore, MD and checked the “within 30 mile box”. If I had wanted all of Maryland, I would leave the HOMETOWN blank.
After pressing SEARCH THE DATABASE, scroll down to the US and Iraq maps showing soldier location markers and scroll even further down to the list of the selected soldier names and data. You can zoom in on the US map to show more detailed home locations.
Select an individual name and date of death and record it on a class master list. That individual will be the subject of your report in Part 2.
Lesson Part 2 Research your individual and write a report
Teacher (or teacher and class) decide information categories to be in each report.
(e.g. name, photo, hometown, age, birthday, service branch, high school attended, parents still living?, brothers & sisters?, spouse or children?, previous job? video clip from the NewsHour Honor Roll? personal notes about his or her life.
(optional but moving) Browse the NewsHour Honor Roll which is 70 chronological pages of NewsHour’s silent Honor Roll streaming videos dating back to March 2003. Each segment typically includes 3 to 10 casualties. It usually takes at least a week or more for an Iraq casualty to appear on the NewsHour broadcast, so it will take students some searching and viewing of several Honor Roll segments before locating the one that includes their selected soldier. The web address of the appropriate Honor Roll segment should be included in the report.
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